Dramatic contemporary sculpture aims to help Rotherham town centre bloom
Children and young people living in Rotherham are to be given the chance to make their mark on an exciting new sculpture, which is set to be unveiled later this year.
Camellia is a ground-breaking new artwork developed by internationally acclaimed sculptor James Capper. Commissioned by Gallery Town and jointly funded by Arts Council England and local businesses, Camellia is a moving sculpture which will stand at 8 metres tall and features petals that react to the movement of light.
Set to be unveiled later this year in Rotherham’s town centre, the work pays homage to Rotherham’s rich industrial heritage as well as exploring our relationship with nature and our impact on the environment. The project was inspired by the camellia flowers brought to Wentworth Woodhouse in the eighteenth century, some of the oldest varieties known to exist in the UK.
Camellia has been fabricated by apprentices working at Brinsworth-based MTL Advanced Ltd, who have spent more than three months working with James Capper to breathe life into his unique concept.
Camellia is the culmination of more than four years’ careful work by Gallery Town to bring a site-specific and thought-provoking contemporary sculpture to Rotherham. An accompanying exhibition is set to take place later in the year at Clifton Park Museum.
James Capper, sculptor said:
“My work has often been inspired by nature and explores the relationship between engineering and the natural world in sculptural forms. When I was approached by Gallery Town to produce a unique work for Rotherham, I was fascinated by many of the important contributions the town has made towards shaping the modern world, from the Rotherham plough, which helped to spark the industrial revolution, to the cutting-edge research and development that continues within the borough today. I wanted to draw on the town’s rich cultural and industrial heritage and beautiful green spaces to create a sculpture that I hope people visiting, living or working in the town will feel proud of.
Flowers constantly evolve and change throughout their lifetime, but they never stay still. It seemed fitting to draw a parallel with the recently rediscovered camellias, which were first planted more than 200 years ago, and the rich industrial and cultural heritage which continues to shape and transform the town. It shows that nothing ever remains constant, and Camellia is an expression that illustrates how, when we build on our knowledge and understanding, we can all blossom and make a positive impact upon society.
Many people often associate engineering as being a technical job, but in reality, it’s one that also requires a great deal of creativity, especially when it comes to solving problems. From the outset, I wanted to create a sculpture that Rotherham can feel proud of and I hope the project will plant a few seeds in the imaginations of our youngsters who will be Rotherham’s future engineers, creatives and entrepreneurs.”
Nick Cragg, Chairman, Gallery Town, said:
“Camellia is, without a doubt, Gallery Town’s most ambitious project to date. We wanted to create a work that would inspire, enthuse and even challenge our perceptions of the world around us, and James’ work certainly fulfils this challenging brief. An important part of Gallery Town’s work over the past decade has been to give people living and working in Rotherham the chance to become a part of the Gallery Town experience.
Art can play a vital role in regeneration, and over the past three years our board has been working closely with Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Arts Council and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. It marks the beginning of an exciting new phase of the Gallery Town project and one that not only brings the work of an internationally renowned sculptor to South Yorkshire, but will also help to reinvent the way we think about our town centre.”
Launched in 2011, Gallery Town’s mission is to rejuvenate and celebrate Rotherham’s cultural history by using art to encourage, inspire and offer opportunities to explore our local community. Since its inception, the project has successfully displayed more than 100 works of art, which can be found in more than 60 locations across Rotherham’s town centre.